SMS has always been popular with Pakistani users and the recent data from PTA provides evidence to this. During the year 2007-08, cellular mobile operators generated more than 25 billion SMS. One reason for this growth is that a majority of user base in Pakistan is young and they prefer to communicate via SMS.Â On Eid and other celebrations, it is now common (default?) practice to send and receive greetings through text messaging. Text messaging also allows people to be more creative, though the SMS may not always be original. Mostly it is a chain of forwarded messages. There is spam SMS as well, which remains an unsolved problem.
All cellular mobile operators have competed aggressively for SMS and that has resulted in a price war, eroding the ARPU but increasing adoption and volume. The mobile operators offered lucrative SMS deals including special one-time buckets of messages for nominal charges. For instance, Telenor launched SMS Fulltime offer for its prepaid customers in which its subscribers can send up to 10,000 on-net SMS with charge of Rs. 99. Telenor even offered free SMS for those who are on Hajj. Zong has similar offers: 500 sms/day for Rs.3 only.
What about other data services? As shown here (for the US market – source: Nielesen Mobile), there are many other popular data services on mobile phones. There is tremendous growth and opportunity about which I wrote here. It will be good to know the usage and popularity of these value-added service in Pakistan. I hope PTA can start publishing these stats soon.